We see it all the time at the mommy-and-me drop-in classes, on the playground, or during preschool pickups — a mom struggling.
Exhaustion written across her face as she hauls her crying child to her hip for the millionth time. All while attempting to reason with her other child, who's red faced and thrashing on the ground. It's an intimately familiar scene for most moms.
So easily these challenging moments of child rearing can turn into days, weeks — even months.
I'm ashamed to say that I’ve stood amongst my fellow mom in moments like these, idle and quiet, without lending so much as an empathetic nod.
Some sort of salute that says, I feel ya, mama. You’re a warrior. You’ve got this.
Being stretched so thin already, it was hard to summon the strength to take care of my own human beings, let alone a fellow comrade. As awful as it sounds, in another mother's moment of agony, I was just thankful it wasn't me.
I never realized how important a compassionate gesture from another mom was until I became that fallen comrade.
I was at my daughter’s preschool field trip and I had my 16-month-old son in tow. Within minutes, I was chasing him around the room filled with other moms and children, all quietly sitting for a presentation. I was frantically going through all the plays from the desperate mom handbook: feeding him junk food to keep him occupied, giving him my phone to watch videos. Nothing worked. He eventually slumped through my arms in one final flop of defiance. The other moms gasped as his head thumped on the floor.
There was no damage to my son that day, only my awakening to the importance of mom fellowship. As I stood in the hallway alone with my hysteric son, I longed for an I feel ya, mama salute from another mom, or a sympathetic smile — anything. But I was completely on my own.
Who better to commiserate with than another mom who knew exactly how I felt?
Someone else who’s ankle deep in dirty diapers all day. Who has used their own shirt for a snotty nose emergency. Who goes without sleep day in and day out. Who better to be there in a moment of defeat than one of my own?
Frazzled from the fieldtrip, I took my kids for a walk in the afternoon. Another mom strolled toward us on the sidewalk. She was hunched over with her son on her shoulders, pushing her daughter in an umbrella stroller that had a number of bags hanging off of it. She looked miserable.
"One of those days, hey?" I said, as we crossed paths.
She stopped and we spoke for a while. She told me that he son refused to walk home. An encore to an already difficult day. I told her about the field trip. We talked about how moms sometimes struggle in silence, and how important it is to break that silence with other moms, if only to swap war stories.
The other mom and I parted in laughter, with smiles on our faces. That feeling of loneliness had faded away.
We had comfort in knowing there was another mom out there, walking down the exact same messy, challenging, beautiful path.